1. Sometimes You Have to Compare Yourself to Others
Trying to follow instructions on how to do something, whether a yoga pose or a writing technique, can be tough. I’m paying close attention but all I get is something about my right leg and a twist and psoas muscles. Finally, I give up and glance at whoever is closest to me. Oh, that’s what she wants us to do? Once I have a visual it all makes sense.
Writing is the same way. You can read about how to pull your reader into your setting or how to craft dialogue that actually serves the story, but you need an example to take what you’ve read from the abstract to the concrete.
2. Sometimes You Have to Honor Where You Are and Quit Comparing
Comparisons are great for figuring out a technique, but once you’ve got that down you need to quit looking. The forward bend is not my friend. My hands will never ever touch the floor. Watching Holly do it just makes me want to push her over – a very anti-yoga emotion. Fortunately, yoga teaches us to honor our bodies. In yoga parlance, I do not have full access to the forward bend. Trying to do the impossible will simply lead to injury.
Comparing yourself to other writers can be just as damaging. We all have our favorite writers. But if I compare the draft of my first novel to Suzanne Brockman or Sarah Addison Allen, I’m going to freeze up. For one thing, I’m comparing my unpublished work to their published work. Mine is also an early novel and these are both multipublished fiction authors. Their work will be very different from mine, and that’s okay. We aren’t in the same place.
3. Balance Is Essential
Even when you do a stretch in yoga, balance is essential. Take your focus off your foundation and you are likely to topple over. I’m a bit famous for reaching just a bit too far and landing on my rump.
Yes, you need to study other writers to learn your craft. The pros are excellent examples of how to plot, to develop characters, and how to weave together plots and subplots. But at some point you need to quit focusing on their work. You need to develop your own style and your unique voice.
The publishing world already had a Suzanne Brockman and a Sarah Addison Allen. Now it needs you.
Writing and yoga. Both require you to be aware of your fellows while also knowing when to focus on your own work. Balance is required to do each at the appropriate time. Fail to achieve that balance and you are liable to land on your rump.
But that’s okay. We’ve all done it. The good news is that your fellow WOW writers can help you get up, rebalance and write. I should know. They’ve done it for me.
To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey. Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins July 9th, 2018.